Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
December 10, 2001
Turn swords into ploughshares — pope
He promotes Dec. 14 day of prayer and fasting for peace
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — Catholic leaders worldwide continued to urge caution in the U.S.-led war against Afghanistan as aid agencies grappled with the need to provide assistance to the millions affected by decades of war, famine and neglect.
Pope John Paul said he hoped that the Church-wide day of fasting Dec. 14 and an interreligious summit in January would show the world the way of peace.
Speaking Dec. 2 to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the pope noted the day's liturgy contained Isaiah's Old Testament prophecy that the nations "shall beat their swords into ploughshares" and renounce warfare.
"May the words of the prophet Isaiah inspire the minds and hearts of believers and people of good will, so that the day of fasting Dec. 14 and the encounter with representatives of world religions in Assisi (Italy) Jan. 24 helps create a more relaxed and mutually concerned climate in the world," he said.
When he announced the day of fasting, the pope said he hoped Christians would find ways to transform their sacrifice into contributions for the needy.
The Vatican announced Dec. 1 it was collecting donations that the pope would allocate to victims of terrorism and war on Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's foreign minister, met U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for talks that centred on the renewed conflict in the Middle East.
The meeting took place in Bucharest, Romania, on the sidelines of a Dec. 3-4 reunion of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's ministerial council, a diplomatic source in Rome told Catholic News Service.
Besides the renewed Israeli-Palestinian violence, the pair also discussed the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and the pope's prayer initiatives for peace.
On the conference floor, Tauran told delegates that worldwide peacekeeping efforts must intensify following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
"More than ever, after Sept. 11, the international community needs to reflect on ways of effectively promoting a culture of peace," he said.
The Vatican diplomat said the Dec. 14 day of fasting and Jan. 24 summit of religious leaders in Assisi were important symbolic instruments to promote peace.
"In these times, when religion is too often used for political ends or, even worse, for killing in the name of God," it is especially important to emphasize that freely chosen and lived religious convictions "are a richness for each person and for society as a whole," he said.
Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem said that terrorism could not be defeated unless the growing disparity between rich and poor nations is addressed.
"The only solution lies in social justice," Sabbah said in a letter to Pax Christi in Hungary.
"We must recognize that global disparity is fundamentally incompatible with global security," he said.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.